If they were to send it abroad, they had to use a carrier like
FedEX. I think the post office didn't want to be responsible for
the expense if it was lost. Could that be an alternative for
sending to Australia?
FedEx was actually the first shipping option I checked out - but it
turned out that it would cost about $57 to send the package that way.
UPS was $71. A bit out of hand, I thought, when the USPS rate for
Global Priority was $9. I don't think the post office would be
responsible for losses inthis case - Global Priority Mail is
uninsurable, so the sender accepts the risk of loss.
Here's the verbatim text from the USPS site
(http://pe.usps.gov/text/Imm/immicl/immiclab_012.html): Coins; bank
notes; currency notes (paper money); securities of any kind payable
to bearer; traveler's checks; platinum, gold, and silver
(manufactured or not); precious stones; jewelry; and other valuable
articles are prohibited.
Most of the other restrictions have to do with biological pollutants
I have to wonder what, exactly, counts as a "valuable article" -
maybe there's a dollar value below which items might be accepted.
I've only dealt with small orders from overseas customers, usually
less than $100, so I can't justify the expense of sending via FedEx.
Maybe sending as a gift, as Ahmed suggested, would be an
option...I'll have to give it a try.
An addendum: I should have done this before writing earlier, but I
did some Googling and found that there's an interesting discussion
of international shipping restrictions and related hassles on eBay.
You can find the discussion in the "community" section under
"Discussion Boards: International Trading." Unfortunately, the
advice given is far from conclusive and often contradictory, but it
was helpful to read of others' experiences.
Several people mentioned that marking a package as a gift might
result in a random customs search, upon which customs officials
might assign your item a higher value than the one declared and
charge your customer added duties or other fees - doubleplusungood!
I also checked out restrictions for other countries on the USPS site
and found that many prohibit or restrict the shipment of jewelry and
other "valuable" articles. One eBay poster suggested that this might
be to avoid the smuggling of "ill-gotten" money or goods, which is
all very well unless you're honestly just trying to export a trinket
or two :-/